Is it really a whole year since I joined the Monastery? I’m so glad I did, and so very grateful to all the monks whose enthusiasm and dedication make PerlMonks the special place it is.
So this seems like a good opportunity to post a rather long poem I wrote to meet the challenge of finding rhymes for all the monastic levels, from Initiate to Pope.
The PerlMonk’s Progress
Filled with moral virtue was his speech,
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.
— Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Prologue 309–10, ‘The Clerk’
There was a keen Perlista, named Hieronymous,
Who lurked a little as a Monk Anonymous,
But soon logged in, becoming an Initiate.
It wasn’t long till he gained his Novitiate,
And, seeking gleams of purest Perlish light,
Rose to the level of an Acolyte.
By moving from one problem to the next ’n,
He quickly grew into the role of Sexton,
And wouldn’t heed distractions (how they needle!)
Until he proudly bore the name of Beadle.
He wrote with care — he never posted junk —
And so in little time he was a Monk.
“Do not give up!” he said, “though skies be still grim.”
So, pushing on, he leveled up to Pilgrim,
And on and on, fulfilling his desire,
To earn at last the priv’leged rank of Friar.
He said, “For hard work, I don’t need a permit.”
So, by and by, he rose to be a Hermit,
Ever with tougher Perlish problems grapplin’,
Until, through effort, he became a Chaplain.
Profounder Perlish wisdom he was seekin’,
And as he learned, he reached the rank of Deacon,
And next went in the Book (which saints do you rate?)
Attaining the exalted rank of Curate.
Well now, had his monastic journey ceased?
Hardly. He persevered to be a Priest,
Honing his answers to be sharper, quicker,
Until, through helpfulness, he was a Vicar.
Not use-ing strict to him was theft, or arson;
His standards rose, and he rose too, to Parson.
Still ever learning, ever reaching higher,
He graduated to become a Prior,
Saying to Perl, “The critics can’t demean your
Elegant charm.” He rose to a Monsignor.
As each chance came, to learn or share, he’d grab it,
And that was how he came to be an Abbot.
He liked a challenge (though a question ran on),
And gave his counsel, till he was a Canon.
Of his own errors, he was not a canceler,
But humbly owned and learned from them. As Chancellor
He had a sheaf of useful scripts he’d dish up
To edify the monks. He rose to Bishop,
But kept his sense of fun. No pride, no starch
Were in his answers. He became an Arch-
Bishop, and said, “With care, my Perlish garden’ll
Grow flow’rs of beauty.” He was now a Cardinal,
Prepared with any puzzle to engage;
And so he grew in time into a Sage,
Ready with anecdote or syntax quaint
To educate his brethren. Now a Saint
He wearies not, but says, “No grass, no moss’ll
Grow over me.” He rises to Apostle,
And, finally, fulfilling dream and hope,
His coronation: he ascends to Pope.
With Acolytes and Abbots in his train,
Hieronymous begins his Papal reign,
Still helping man and woman, boy monk, girl monk—
A servant of the Perl, and of the PerlMonk.